Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Garden tick

So, the weather over the Christmas period has greatly reduced the amount and variety of bird species that have been around, and my chances of seeing them. However, this morning I was casually sitting in my living room when I spotted a male blackcap on the bush next to our birdtable. This is the first time I can recall having one in the garden so it was very exciting. Sadly its visit was only brief and the view I got was not great. After I had got the camera the bird was gone, so sadly no photos of this... historic record!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


So Tuesday morning and i'm just about getting back to normal life. This morning I spotted a large, maybe around 100 fieldfares in the field behind the house. Its probably the largest gathering of these birds the field has seen, though there seem to be larger gatherings every winter. There were some smashing views of them as the foraged around the short stubby turf.

Sunday, 22 December 2013


So I have only been back 2 days and already there seems to be plenty of wildlife around, not least hundreds of thrushes that have been around my brothers church in Pellon. Whilst waiting for him to come out of church I was able to watch fieldfares and redwings flying between trees and identify them too, even though they were flying. Its nice to be home...

Friday, 20 December 2013

Uni Week 13

So the last week before Christmas. Its weird to think I have only known these people for 13 weeks and yet here we are struggling to leave each other for Christmas. Somehow, my lectures managed to continue right until Friday, while many other people just finished their lectures on Tuesday, Wednesday and then went home. This left the accommodation in a state of serene quiet state, as well as the main campus. Somehow, everyone else quiet week turned into a pretty hectic week for me, with 4 assignments as well as continuing lectures leaving me with a constant stream of work that kept me busy.

Going home day. Prior to my leaving I happened to look out of my window and spotted a jay flying into the tree's on the other side of the road.
  The train journey meant guaranteed fun, and so it proved as there was a signal failure at Sheffield station which meant a chronic backlog of delays. Once it got going though I was able to enjoy watching numerous winter thrushes from the train window, and when we passed a fishing lake I was able to spot some tufted ducks on the lake

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Uni Week 11

All the talk these days seems to be about Christmas and our opinions on it, a sign that the first semester is slowing down and that soon we will all be going home.

Its hard to believe but today I spotted a  Butterfly behind the school, my memory fails me as to which species it was, though more than likely small tortoiseshell. The weather was nice enough though it was bitterly cold. This is without doubt the latest I can ever recall seeing a butterfly

So wandering back from corp at 2.00 as standard for a Thursday morning, also standard is hearing midnight the robin singing behind the union. I still have not seen midnight, which is a bit of a disappointment since I have made him into a mini celeb around these parts but one can understand if he wants to stay out of the limelight

Wandering down to the uni at 9.00 for lectures the lad I was with suddenly said 'Oh look, that's a nice bird'. I only spotted said bird when it came and landed on a pillar a matter of meters away. It was a Jay, and one of the finest views I can ever recall getting of one. It was much bolder than  any others I have encountered, sitting on the pillar next to a steady stream of students. It flew of after a few seconds, but flew up the road alongside the students, not away from them

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Uni Week 10

Its been a pretty crazy week, just not in terms of wildlife sadly. After the CU weekend away which left me deprived of sleep, I then had a gig in London on the Tuesday night, but had to get back overnight for compulsory labs. I walked through the door at 6.30 in the morning, so that did not help my lack of sleep.

Prior to my gig I spotted a flock of long-tailed tits while walking down to the uni today. They were quite high up in the trees but it was still nice to see

I say I got back in the room at 6.30, I arrived at Meadowhall at 5.00 and was surprised to hear many birds calling despite it being still rather dark, and well out of season. I could hear blackbird alarm calls as well as various robins singing, though I only saw blackbirds on the walk back from the uni at around 6.15, though it was a very good view.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Uni Week 9

It has defiantly been a quiet week, with nothing really wildlife related that springs to mind. However, at the weekend I went on the Christian Union weekend away in wales, and on the way there I did get some decent views of buzzards on the roadside on at least 3 occasions, one of which the bird was sat on a lamppost. Also walking to the uni I spotted a squirrel in a bin, presumably rummaging, but since all I could see was its tail it was quite an amusing sight.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Uni Week 8

So this has definitely been a busy week wildlife wise, based on the standards set so far at any rate. So without further a do, lets commence with the breakdown of this week

Walking along behind the school on my way to uni I heard and then saw a lovely flock of long tailed tits. They were quite high up so I was unable to get any really great views but they still got the week off to a great start and they are always nice to see

So walking back from a club at 2.00 in the morning I was very surprised to hear a robin singing behind the students union building. Even by urban birds it still seems ridiculously early in the morning while its so dark too. Either way, I was impressed I recognized the song as a robin, even if I did not see the bird

So on the way to the blockbuster closing down sale I have to walk through the botanical gardens. It was a lovely day, with blue sky and as it was early evening it had lovely light too. I spotted 9 squirrels on my walk and at very close quarters too, and some in very photogenic positions

Another walk though the botanical gardens and once more there were ample squirrels. I knelt down to get a better view of a few and they came running up, to you, it was pretty insane how close they were getting. Overall there were probably around 20 squirrels as well as 2 jays which were high up in a tree.

More of the same really, just more Squirrels in the botanical gardens Botanical Gardens

Walking to the village shop to get some milk this morning I spotted a jay fly near the Edge bar. It landed high up in a tree though so it was not a brilliant view but it was still nice to see.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Uni Week 7

Once more it has been a very quiet week, either that or I have been expecting too much. If that's true then its probably been quite a busy week, in that the numbers of ladybirds is still on the up and one is now asleep on my window. There has also been quite a few squirrels around, one of which was very bold and I managed to get within 1 meter of it, it was a huge squirrel too. Having said that, the real drama happened on Tuesday...

I came home from lectures today and crossing the courtyard where I live I found, under a bush, a feral pigeon that seemed injured, and was very stunned since I if I had wanted to I could simply tread on it. I figured it would be unwise to leave it there where so many students come past so went to get my gloves. I picked it up from the path and the thing did not move a muscle. There were some remnants of blood on its beak but apart from that and a bald patch on its neck there was no sign of injury. I placed in over the wall next to the stairs where I would be able to monitor it but nobody would know. I gave it some digestive and then left. Over the day I checked it regularly but it did not move at all. Before bed I came back and gave it some more digestive but it seemed pretty hopeless.

I headed down the following morning expecting to find that it had been predated during the night, or that it had died in its sleep. It was not where I left it so decided it must have died and been carried off, however when I turned around it was sat in the bike stands. I was pleased since it had obviously moved there itself. However, once more I was not keen to leave it there, in a place where it was very vulnerable so I moved to try and get it. I was pleased to see it running away and it even tried, though failed, to fly. Eventually I caught it and moved it on the field under some trees. I gave it some digestive and left it. When I checked later that day it had gone and there was no trace, suggesting it had flown off rather than being predated. I would like to think then that my rescue had been a success but sadly I guess I will never know...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Uni Week 6

This week was a lot more productive than recent weeks, or at least Sunday was. Apart from that its been another quiet week but I went for a walk to with church along the canal in Matlock.

Went for a walk along the Matlock canal today, it had a mixture of weather, but on the whole it was pretty decent. The highlight was undoubtedly 9 little grebes, really close as well so that you could really appreciate how nice they are. Along with them there were numerous mallards and mute swans, as well as 2 species of wagtail, pied and grey. There were also a small flock of long tailed tits. While walking back I had to rescue a small newt from a puddle in the path but that was nice to see, if not a little unexpected. Also unexpected was the fact that I saw not one but 2 red admiral butterflies, which was bizarre considering that they are a migratory species. This could well be my latest ever butterfly record.
-Little Grebe

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Uni Week 5

Its been a slow week with not a lot happening, and not been out much and the weather has not been up to much either. Its been a bumper week for squirrels, numerous have been seen as well as a couple fighting. Apart from that the only noticeable thing is that collections of hibernating ladybirds have started to develop in the corners of the stairs. That's about it though in all honesty, its been a quiet week.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Uni Week 4

Just a collection of odd bits from walking around this week, nothing especially major

Walking through Broomhill and I spotted a sparrowhawk loitering over the buildings there, probably hunting but it was nice to see as it was flying quite low. I also spotted a small flock of long-tailed tits in a garden on my way to the uni, though it was a brief and not very good view.

Walking to a gig in the evening I could hear some geese above me and looking up I spotted a skein of about 30-40 of what I assume are pink-footed geese flying in  formation in a NE direction. Its my skein of the autumn so I was very please to find them, especially in the dark.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Uni Week 3

Lectures started this week so things have settled down a bit more and I have not been out as much to see birds or wildlife within Sheffield due to work load. Having said that there has still been odd bits around.

I had a squirrel on the roof opposite from my bedroom window which I was able to watch for a bit. It did not seem too bothered about my being there so it was nice to watch

Wandering down to the uni for my lecture I spotted a sparrowhawk loitering in the sky above the road, which was nice

I spotted 2 jays on the tree next to my bedroom window while I was outside waiting for a friend. I did not get a great view but it was decent enough

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Uni Week 2

So week 2 in my new home comes and goes. This week was built mainly on fieldwork and so we were out in the field quite a lot.

Went to Whiteley Wood to collect leaves. On the bird front there was a heron, one buzzard soaring overhead and a pair of robins having a real scrap

We went to the cemetery to collect leaves but there was not much there due to the poor weather. On the way back we went through the botanic gardens and there were ample, maybe 10 magpies all on the lawns, as well as wood pigeons and collard doves.

I went on a walk with the Sheffield university bird-watching society through Endcliffe park to Forge Dam. We recorded a few interesting species, grey wagtail, sparrowhawk, buzzard, mistle thrush, long tailed tit, tree-creeper and nuthatch, and it was a nice walk

Went for a walk with a church up on the borders of the peak district through some woods and round a reservoir. Butterflies were in abundance, with multiple Small Tortoiseshells and Speckled Woods. There was also a Common Sandpiper on the bank of the reser which was really nice to see. Besides that there was a sparrowhawk.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Uni Week 1

So obviously I have been busy and so have not really had time to update this blog. Uni has been good so far but there was been a limited amount of wildlife. I am staying in a rather green area of Sheffield, which bodes well but so far there has not been much about, except in the way of fungi which have been in excess! I did however go for a walk on the edge of the peak district through church so I have been able to see some things that way. Most notably was that there were a flock of around 5 swallows hunting, which will probably be my last this year. I also found a handful of meadow pipits as well as your usual carrion crows. So it has been a good start and hopefully we will continue to find plenty of birds. I have joined the bird-watching society so hopefully through there I will also get to visit some other sites further afield.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

The departure

So off we go to uni. Its goodbye my beloved Halifax for a little while anyway. And then, just as we were setting off would you believe what was on my mums budlia bush as we pulled out? it was a beautiful painted lady butterfly. Once more I lacked a camera and had other priorities at that exact moment but even so it was a bit sickening to see, this species that I still need a photo off, especially after missing one less than a week ago...
  So thats two in a week when they really should have started to migrate back, when I have lacked them for the past 2 years!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Walking to town

Walking into Halifax today for a goodbye meal with some friends prior to leaving for uni and I spotted a monster Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillar, my first of the year. It seems to me to be out rather late but it seemed to be doing ok and getting ready to pupate any time soon.
  The only other thing I noticed on my walk was that there were still a few swallows hunting the lane in bradshaw park. These I recall are the last I have seen this year at the time writing (24.09.2013).

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Soil Hill

-Wall Brown
I had a brief walk round the hill this afternoon. It certainly had more going for it than it has done recently. On the bird front there were good numbers of skylarks, around 30 birds flushed, and about 15 meadow pipits to go along with them. There were also a few swallows hunting the road on the way up, as well as a kestrel hunting the fields lower down. There was a flock goldfinches on the thistles again, but they were much flightier today. On the insect front I had two firsts on the year with butterflies: Wall brown which I got a decent view of, as it roosted on a dry stone wall, and painted lady, which I did not get a good view of as it flew around me and then chose not to land, but overall a good day.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Soil Hill

There was a continued lack of birds on the hill today, surprise surprise. And because of the clouds and wind there was also a lack of insects, only one small tortoiseshell butterfly. On the bird front I flushed one meadow pipit and about 6 skylarks. On the way up I flush a flock of around 20 goldfinches, which was the undoubted highlight.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bradshaw Park

Walking through Bradshaw park today on my way to town and at some water filled tyre tracks I was pleased to find a large flock of swallows gathering for their migration, as well as a group of 5 or 6 meadow pipits. The swallows were hunting above the pool as well as gathered on the wires above, they totalled around 40 birds. They meadow pipits were washing themselves and skulking around the dry stone wall. It was very nice to see, and so far the latest swallows I have seen this year.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Went for a walk today in Ilkely today with my family, since I would be leaving soon. Saw plenty of things on the walk, grey wagtail, dipper and heron, though the kingfisher was the highlight. We spotted it several times on the walk.


Monday, 9 September 2013

Garden Speckled Wood

Its happened before, but its not frequent so when a speckled wood turned up in the garden it was very exciting. It did not really stay for photos, so the best I could manage was this, on the bird table. Its not brilliant but it will do as a record shot for the second record

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Soil Hell

Since it was a nice warm day with little breeze I decided to wander up to soil hell again to see if there would be anything. On the way up, via the fields I found 3 small coppers, which I would have thought would have been quite late in the season, though the number suggested not.
-Small Copper
There was more on the bird front today as well. On the way up by after the fields there was a large flock of Goldfinch feeding on thistles by the roadside, and with them there were a pair of linnets, which is a bird that the hill has been lacking recently. Other species included good numbers of Skylark, a few meadow pipits, 3 woodpigeons, a few carrion crows and a kestrel hunting.
Once more the hill excelled on the dragonfly front, so long as there are dragonflies there, it will excell in that department. There were only 2 individuals up there today, but both were different species: Common Darter and Black Darter, both males. The common darter was much more flighty than the black darter but I managed to get a record shot for the hill.
-Common Darter Male
It took me some time to pin down the black darter but once I found where it was staying still then I was able to get some photos of it. At first I went for the stealth approach, but soon it did not seem too fussed about me being there and I could approach it with ease.
-Male Black Darter
So another productive couple of hours on the hill...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Bolton Abbey

We decided to go to Bolton Abbey today since it was a nice day, though very humid. There were quite a few insects about and that was why we saw lots of swallows and house martins hunting on the river as soon as we reached it. Some must have also been drinking from it given how much water they were throwing up, either that or their aim was poor.
As we walked along the riverside we flushed a brown hawker dragonfly. It landed and I tried to track it down but flushed it again and it moved off so I was unable to get a photo
In my pursuit though I did find a couple of small coppers, which I would have thought were quite late. They were very approachable and I was able to get some good photos of them.
-Small copper
Up by the bridge we found a good number of wagtails hunting on the shingle beach, both pied and grey, as well as one dipper perched on the far side of the river.
-Grey Wagtail
We made it to the cafe without anything else particularly exciting. At the cafe there were the usual Mallards and feral pigeons about. The feral pigeons were very bold and they would sit on the tables picking up crumbs once the people had left their trays.
-Feral Pigeon
Walking back was just as unevetful until we reached the bridge again. Here we found an obviously very sick, but very large and colourful caterpillar on the path. We moved it off the path and I took some photos for i.d. It appears to have some kind of fungal growth on its back end, but I have no idea what it is.
A little further down the river we found three mandarins sheltering under a tree on the far side of the river. There was also a female goosander hunting in the river. It was quite bold too, not flying away at the first sight of us, and happily continued fishing.
And so we end where we began, with a large number of swallows and martins hunting the river. There seemed to be more on the way back, and the numbers were quite something.
-House Martins
And so we headed back to the car, the only other thing of note was a speckled wood butterfly which we found flying along the path

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Lake District

Since it was our last 'family wednesday' before I leave for university we decided to make it special and head up to the lake district. The weather was not as great as it could have been, a grey hazy day, but otherwise fair enough. We decided to start the day by walking up Aira force waterfall, a walk I can recall doing once. It was mainly woodland, and on the dead wood we found some pretty impressive fungal structures.
The rest of the walk passed without much wildlife in all honesty, with the exception of a nuthatch. I did however find a spider dangling about a meter below the branch it was attached it, which looked pretty special, but in the gloomy wood the light was too poor for photos and as such I had to use flash to really highlight the patterns on the spiders back.
-Spider (Garden?)
After that we moved on to Keswick to have lunch in the park/gardens there. During lunch we were accompanied by a number of garden birds. They were mainly sparrows, but there was also a curious, partially albino blackbird and a very aggressive juvenile robin that seemed to want a pick a fight with everything with wings. But it was quite bold so I was able to get some decent photos of it.
-Partially Albino Blackbird
-Juvenile Robin
After lunch we went out on the rowing boats as we always do. This time though we went straight over to the far side to see what was over there. There was nothing different in all honesty, a late family of ducklings and the usual groups of fishing mergansers. As we approached the mergansers they kept diving, but as came closer they dived again and when they reappeared they were right in front of us. It gave them something of start and they made off pretty quick.
-Red Breasted Mergansers
We also found one that was perched on a felled log, but it got up and swam away as we approached.
-Red Breasted Merganser

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Garden Spider

Got a call from my mum to come down to the garden this afternoon, where she had found a massive garden spider, female, the largest I have ever seen. It was about the size of a 2 pence coin, and was beautifully patterned as well. 
-Garden Spider